At the end of the day, it’s all about a safer Samoa

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 26 November 2016, 12:00AM

The difference of opinions over whether the Police should use firearms in performing their role to protect the people of this country is a healthy debate. 

It needs to happen now rather than later. We say this because as much as we’d like to think Samoa does not need this sort of L.A.P.D policing style to borrow a term that’s been used a lot lately, we’ve got to be realistic. We live in a country where some people possess some very powerful weapons. It is foolish to expect the Police to approach them bare-chested and with their ie lavalava when they are opening fire towards them. 

In the recent past, this is why we’ve seen a lot of raids where the Police have resorted to the use of firearms. Of course there have been the odd cases where the Police have got it wrong. But that’s not the point here.

The fact the Police are getting out there and doing their job in as far as hunting for people and substances that pose a threat to the community is reassuring. 

It’s sad that they have to rely and resort to firearms more and more but what would you do if you were a Police officer? Say you are a cop. You approach someone at the Fugalei market who is suspected of pushing marijuana and they turn around with a gun and point it to you, what would you do? 

This is the question.

For the Police, the snag is that in the process of supposedly doing their work using firearms, complaints have surfaced. Many of them seem to be about the excessive nature of how firearms are used. Fair enough.

You see, criticisms of the Police in this country are nothing new.

But when it comes to the issue in question, we think it is not as straight forward as some people think. It is why caution must be exercised in the court of public opinion over the matter. 

Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

But it’s important that opinions are constructive and well informed. 

In other words, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that although in some instances the Police might have gone over the top in terms of firearms, it doesn’t take away the fact they have a critical role to play and some point, firearms are inevitable. They have to protect themselves too at all times. Their lives are just as precious as members of the public.

Now from what we can gather so far, the gist of the complaints target the aggressive nature of the raids and the use of firearms.

This is a very tough issue. As we’ve said before, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have anything to do with firearms. 

We’re sure the Police officers wouldn’t have either. We would just continue to use our traditional ways of dialoguing and ava fatafata to deal with law and order situations.

But we don’t live in an ideal world anymore. It this country, we have to be realistic. 

Many of us are well aware about the danger posed by individuals and groups involved with drugs and other illegal substances. The reality is that where there are drugs, there are bound to be guns.

History exists to show that even where there are marijuana patches, guns are never far off. You only have to think back a few years ago to Faleatiu to know what we are talking about.

Now why do we say the differences of opinion is healthy?

Put it this way, we need to have this debate now because the issue of guns, drugs and lawbreakers in Samoa has become our reality.

At some point, this country will have to make a decision. And when it happens, it needs to be an informed one. 

The days of ignorance are over. We are not the Samoa of old. We have evolved and our challenges have taken on new meanings. 

This is why it’s important we tread carefully in as far as crucifying the Police and their use of weapons.

Let’s not forget that if there were no reasons for Police to go into these homes in the first place, none of this talk would exist. 

But as it stands, in some cases, the Police obviously had enough evidence and having obtained permission from the Court, their raids have found drugs, guns and other materials that should not be there.  Which is the service the Police exist to provide.

What’s important here, in our opinion, is that members of the public and the Police are engaged in forging the best way forward for Samoa. At the end of the day, it’s all about working together for a safer Samoa. That’s what we think anyway. What about you?

Have a safe weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 26 November 2016, 12:00AM

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